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Part of the reason Pacquiao-Mayweather has captured the imagination not just in the States but across the entire world is because of the way both men set up against each other as perfect dramatic foils.
Swaggering, smack-talking, hundred-dollar bill burning Mayweather represents the American Dream in all its grandeur and garish tawdriness. Soft-spoken Pacquiao is an inspiration to downtrodden masses all across the globe, a perfect Horatio Alger story who remains likable and modest to the end.
At the same time, Pacquiao often seems too deferential towards authority, whether it be his promoter Bob Arum, his political mentors or even the Catholic Church. Mayweather's determination to say whatever he likes and handle his own business can actually be refreshing in contrast.
There was a lot of excitement last Jan. 20 when ESPN reported that Mayweather and Pacquiao had spoken on the phone. But nothing fruitful seems to have come of the exchange and the sticking point that seems to have emerged in the call will remain an obstacle for as long as Mayweather insists on it:
"I called him and asked him about us fighting May 5 and giving the World what they want to see," Mayweather's email read. "I also let him know we both can make a lot of money. He ask about a 50/50 split and I told him no, that can't happen, but what can happen is you can make more money fighting me then you have made in your career. I also let him know I'm in control on my side but he needs to get on the same page with his promoter so we can make this fight happen."
In other words, Mayweather wants to treat Pacquiao like an "opponent." He'll guarantee him a huge payday, but it will be Mayweather's show and he will get the major PPV profits.
Pacquiao may be humble and modest, soft-spoken and careful about what he says. But he has as much pride as any man, and there's no way he will stand for Mayweather's high-handed treatment.
He shouldn't. Pacquiao is No. 1 on at least as many media pound-for-pound lists as Mayweather is. He's No. 1 on The Ring's list, probably the closest thing the sport has to a truly authoritative ranking.
Pacquiao is at least as big of a star as Mayweather is, and Mayweather knows it. I am inclined to think Mayweather's early direct offers to Pacman are as much designed to jerk with Bob Arum as anything else, which brings me to my final point.